Commissioners hear about new attorney recruitment program, begin budget conversation



Suzanne Star with the Unified Judicial System spoke to Day County Commissioners about the rural attorney recruitment program they offer at their regular meeting July 10.  She explained that this program was implemented by Chief Justice Gilbertson and the South Dakota Legislature approved funding of the program.

Star told the commissioners that this is a five year program offered to counties with less than 10,000 population and found to have a need for an attorney. Star said no one is filling these openings as 65 percent of the graduates go to larger communities and larger counties.

An attorney working under the program would receive $12,500 per year for five years. Star said that could be used from helping the attorney getting established in practice to helping pay down their student loan. It is up to the applicant. The money comes from the state legislature as well as 15 percent from the state bar and then the county makes up 35 percent of $12,500 per year.

She said one student from Day County will be a second year law student and Dylan Kirchmeier would like to come back to Day County. Kirchmeier said he was born and raised here and loves the area and would like to come back as, he told commissioners, he still has family and ties to the community.

While this was just an informative meeting Commissioner Linda Walters said this looks pretty cut and dried with the county coming up with 35 percent in the program.

Tax abatements

The county approved four tax abatements on two parcels from Bristol and two from Andover. Once the taxes are abated, the county would turn those back over to the communities. It was the hope that they could be sold and put back on the tax rolls.

One place in Bristol had back taxes for the last three years that totaled $91.06 and the second place was $1,725.38 for six years of back taxes.

In Andover one place had back taxes of $429.70 and the other was for $30.76 for six years. The last was just a lot.

All the parcels also had special assessments added from Bristol and Andover on the appropriate location that city added to the taxes of the land and the city would need to forgive those.

Budget talking points

While the budget process is still a month away, commissioners began talks on the budget to include the wheel tax and portion to be given to the cities. While no motion was made, the direction after discussion will be for the cities to receive the levy of approximately $27,000 to be divided out over four payments and the county to keep $20,000 of the wheel tax the cities received last year.

Auditor Bonnie Fosheim said she has not received any letter of request for public defender, but thought it should be coming in from Kent Delaney. Fosheim added no signed letters for requests from the ambulance, soil conservation and some other organizations who normally request funds have been received yet. Commissioners told Fosheim that it is not her responsibility to contact them. If the county does not get requests, don’t plan on them in your budget and they will have to go the year without funding.

Commissioners also briefly discussed the sheriff’s budget and stated while it is down $18,000 from the 2018, it did have a request for a third deputy. The amount requested was for $63,000 which not only included the new deputy pay, but insurance and other expenses associated with a new hire such as social security match and retirement. The decrease in the 2018 budget included a purchase of a new vehicle which was already approved. Commissioners wondered with a new deputy if a new vehicle would also be needed. Again no action was taken on any of the budget items, but the start of discussions.

Fosheim said she will start plugging in the numbers now and they can begin to make changes with final approval in late August or September. In other budgets, the biggest increases came in the increase in employee pay and the benefits associated.

In other matters, the council:

Approved transfer of funds from a special insurance fun for hail damage to general fund to now pay the cost of repairs.

Approved pay increases for employees in the sheriff’s office and treasurer’s office.

Bryan Anderson said he has not received any contact as of yet from the recent article on the search and rescue program.

Approved the transfer of the liquor license from Pickerel Lake Lodge to PLL, LLC as it was reported that the business has been sold and the $300 transfer fee has been paid.

Approved the sheriff to purchase two portable alcohol breathe testers. The cost will exceed the $500 purchase, but needed as two can no longer be recalibrated.

Heard reports from Day County Champion Community and Webster Area Economic Development and the services the two groups provide in the county.

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